Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Gay and Transgender Discrimination Outside the Workplace: We Need Protections in Housing, Health Care, and Public Accommodations

By Crosby Burns, Philip Ross
Posted on Center for American Progress, reposted at

An overflow crowd listens to a testimony on a gay civil rights bill during a public hearing in Olympia, Washington.

Many people know that gay and transgender individuals experience high rates of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. But gay and transgender individuals also experience discrimination in other areas, such as housing, healthcare, and areas of public accommodations. Unfortunately, no federal law currently exists to shield gay and transgender individuals from discrimination.

Activists and lawmakers have long advocated for laws such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, that would protect gay and transgender workers from senseless discrimination on the job. More needs to be done to combat discrimination against gay and transgender Americans not only in the workplace, but in all spheres of life.

This memo examines this problem more closely to show why comprehensive legislation is needed to protect these Americans.

President Obama, of All People, Should Know That Some Rights Can’t Be Left to the States

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 09:55 AM PDT on unicornbooty, reposted at

Happily married: Michelle and Barack Obama
In 1961, when Barack Hussein Obama II was born in the brand new State of Hawaii, laws on the books in 22 of the other 49 United States forbade the marriage of his White American mother to his Black Kenyan father. Arizona’s anti-miscegenation law prohibiting marriage between whites and any persons of color was repealed in 1962.

Similar laws in Utah and Nebraska were overturned the following year. Indiana’s law prohibiting interracial marriage held out until 1965, Maryland’s until 1967, the same year that such laws were finally overturned in Alabama∗, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia that ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

By the time race was removed as a barrier to marital choice in America, Barack Obama was in the first grade. By the time inter-racial marriage was fully accepted in America . . . well that hasn’t really happened yet. While it’s more and more common for men and women of different heritage to tie the knot, there remain – and you know this as well as I do – a mostly closeted but occasionally verbose cadre of bigots in this country who, had they their way, would continue to see our country divide itself along lines not yet fully erased by centuries of blood and toil.

Yes, we all know about America’s racially conflicted past, so what’s the point?

The point is that it’s incomprehensible to me that Barack Obama, a man whose legitimacy as an American has been publicly questioned by hate-rousing provocateurs, a man whose early life confounds the prevailing norms of his generation, a man whose ascendency in the 21st Century was made possible only by the bravery of justice-seekers in the 20th, that he, of all people, would be behind the times on marriage equality.

How is it possible that his stance on gay marriage is still evolving?
In 1969, Barack Obama was just finishing the second grade when, on June 28, almost precisely 42 years ago, thousands of gay men and more than a few women rose up for the first time against the systematic, institutional, sanctioned mistreatment and exclusion under which they suffered in this country. At the time of the Stonewall Uprising, homosexual behavior was a crime in 49 states. The last of the states’ sodomy laws weren’t officially laid to rest until the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, 36 years after Loving, and what interracial couples got in 1967, same-sex couples are still waiting for today.

I struggled with whether to even write on this topic since I don’t really have a dog in the fight. I’m a man married to a woman. Maybe this particular issue is one I should leave alone. Maybe it’s just something I should let time work out in its inexorable way. Maybe, but then when it comes to fairness, time is too sluggish a vessel. Rather than wonder, “Who am I to speak?” I wonder, “Who am I to withhold an opinion where one is clearly called for?” About something as fundamental as the question of whether all American adults have the right to flourish in the loving marriage of their choice, not taking a position is taking a position – the wrong one.

Being fair to the president, no president ever has done more or could have done more to advance the rights of gays and lesbians in this country. The repeal of the military’s policy of feigned ignorance and self-abnegation was, in itself, a triumph. The withdrawal of his administration’s support for the Defense of Marriage Act was another blow for progress. Maybe on this one issue, an issue that perhaps has the president torn over the significance of a mere word, perhaps as a straight man with no ax to grind, he just doesn’t think it’s his place to weigh in. That would be understandable. It would also be unforgivable.

It was a White president from Missouri who integrated the Armed Forces. It was a White president from Texas who signed the Civil Rights Act. Maybe it just has to be a straight president from Hawaii via Illinois who removes that lingering, ugly, codified divide that stands Americans apart from one another, mounting the hate and rot that still enlace our public discourse. Words matter. The words “marriage” and “union” are separate and therefore unequal and even if no one else can see why, surely Barack Obama can.

Taking the president at his word, or at the word of his staff, perhaps he honestly believes that deciding who can marry whom is a matter best left to state electorates. The public will, after all, is the fuel that runs the engine of our democracy and there’s no purer fuel than the public’s expression of that will through voting its opinion. I would accept that, but for the fact that any government’s most vital function is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

Were it left to public opinion, our country would be a very different place. When the National Guard met George Wallace at the University of Alabama in 1963, most public opinion in Alabama was on Wallace’s side. When 110,000 Japanese Americans were herded into internment camps in 1942, public opinion largely supported it as good common sense. A fair share of American public opinion once opposed women’s suffrage and supported removal of American Indians from their land.

Some things are too important to be pushed at from behind; they must be led, kicking and screaming if necessary, from the front. The president’s failure to identify marriage equality as a civil right, not something for the states to muddle stopping one step short of an unqualified embrace of all Americans’ rights to enter into the sanctioned marriage of their choice – that, in a word, is cruel. It’s small, it’s weak and it’s cruel.
Four years ago I was fortunate enough to ask then candidate Obama a question and even more fortunate to get a response. It was at the California Democratic Convention and Obama was not yet encircled by Secret Service agents at all times. In a recess of the San Diego Convention Center I saw him on the move and thought, what should I ask this man whose passion is so evident, whose love of life and country so vividly expressed? So I asked, “Senator Obama, what do you hate?”

In an instant of pure candor he replied, “I hate cruelty. I don’t know why people are cruel.”

Neither do I, Mister President. Neither do I.

∗ Actually, as of 1999, Alabama’s anti-miscegenation law remained on the books, though it has not been enforced since Loving. I’m not aware of any other such laws remaining nominally in place, nor do I know if the Alabama law has since been officially repealed by legislation. I’m actually kind of afraid to find out.

Tony Phillips is a grant writer, specializing in service programs for the homeless and special needs populations. A former professor of English and contemporary Western Culture at universities in China and Mexico, he currently lives and works in San Diego.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BRAVO Contributes to Report on Hate Violence against LGBTIQ Community

Report shows second highest murder rate ever recorded. Transgender people and people of color are most targeted communities for severe hate violence. Ohio among top states reporting.
To download the full Report please visit NCAVP online.

Columbus, Ohio — The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), in a national audio press conference today, released its report Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010. Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), a member program of NCAVP, saw the impact of severe violence against local LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities.
• Ohio is once again ranked among the top states in the nation in the number of hate violence incidents committed against LGBT people, with 340 such incidents reported in 2010.
• The 2010 data indicates a continuation in the trend of an increase in the severity of violence over the past few years, throughout BRAVO’s service area. That trend continued in 2010, reflecting a steady upward swing in the use of weapons, particularly thrown objects like bottles, rocks and bricks.
Additional key findings and recommendations from the national report include the following:
• In 2010, NCAVP documented 27 anti-LGBTQ murders, the second highest yearly total ever recorded by the coalition. This is a 23% increase from the 22 people murdered in 2009.
• 70% of the 27 reported hate murder victims in 2010 were LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color, which represented 44% of total survivors and victims. This reflects a disproportionate targeting of people of color for severe and deadly violence. As well, people of color were less likely to receive medical attention when they needed it and less likely to receive appropriate responses from the police.
• Transgender women made up 44% of the 27 reported hate murders in 2010, while representing only 11% of total survivors and victims. As well, transgender people were more likely to have injuries as a result of attacks and less likely to receive medical care.
NCAVP documented a 13% increase in hate violence incidents from 2009 to 2010, as well as a much greater increase in the severity of violence. “The findings of this report are troubling and reveal a need for the serious commitment of organizations, institutions, funders and policymakers towards research and the prevention of violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals,” said Gloria McCauley from the Buckeye region Anti-Violence Organization. “Our recommendations represent crucial steps for ending violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in this country.”

The report’s specific recommendations include calling for the following changes:
• Fund critically needed research and data collection on hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities, their access to services, and violence prevention initiatives.
• Gather data about sexual orientation and gender identitiy in all federal, state and local government forms.
• Create new public and private funding streams and target the use of existing funds to increase access to anti-violence services for LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals, particularly for those disproportionately affected by hate violence-i.e. transgender people and people of color.
• Create programs and campaigns to reduce anti-LGBTQ hate violence. Prioritize the leadership of those most impacted by severe hate violence within these programs.
• Stop the culture of hate through policymakers and public figures denouncing anti-LGBTQ violence.
This year’s report also includes real-life stories from LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of hate violence to call immediate and necessary attention to the need to end the culture of violence in which these incidents of hate violence occur.

BRAVO works to eliminate violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identification, domestic violence and sexual assault through prevention, education, advocacy, violence documentation and survivor services, both within and on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs, affiliate organizations and individuals who create systemic and social change. We strive to increase power, safety and resources through data analysis, policy advocacy, education, and technical assistance.

Reposted at

Friday, July 1, 2011

National Coalition for LGBT Health and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applaud inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in HHS National Health Interview Survey

Washington, June 29 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for LGBT Health applaud the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for outlining an action plan to improve health data collection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Today's announcement is an important step forward in the effort to better address the health needs of the LGBT community. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for LGBT Health will track the process closely as data collection efforts progress.

Data collection that tracks the health status and experiences of LGBT individuals is essential because such data provide government agencies and community-based health care workers with information about how to offer the best health services for LGBT individuals and communities. It also will document and address health disparities experienced by LGBT people.

HHS unveiled a plan that will allow the department to more fully count and track the health of LGBT individuals by collecting and reporting sexual orientation and gender identity data on the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The plan establishes a timeline, including benchmarks along the way, for ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity questions are added to the NHIS survey. This process includes field testing existing questions on sexual orientation as well as developing and field testing gender identity questions with the assistance of leading researchers in the field of LGBT data collection.

Hutson W. Inniss, executive director of the National Coalition for LGBT Health, says, "This is a historic day for the field of LGBT health. At the National Coalition for LGBT Health, we have been working with our members to advocate for such progress and develop tools that can be used on these surveys. We know that LGBT individuals experience unique health disparities, and tracking this data on the national level will be a remarkable step forward to documenting and identifying ways to reduce the disparities that LGBT people face."

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says, "This announcement represents a huge step forward for addressing the health care needs of LGBT people in this country. Data collection is essential for establishing programs that address the needs of the LGBT community in the area of health and elsewhere. The Task Force, through the New Beginning Initiative, has been advocating for data collection around sexual orientation and gender identity on all sorts of federal surveys because if they don't count us, we're virtually invisible to the federal government. We look forward to supporting HHS as this process moves ahead."

Data collection in health surveys and in other contexts has been a key priority for the New Beginning Initiative, a coalition of expert organizations convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force working to advance LGBT policy priorities in federal administrative agencies. The National Coalition for LGBT Health has led the efforts of the New Beginning Initiative to have sexual orientation and gender identity data collected on federal and state surveys, and this announcement marks a breakthrough victory in this effort.

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit and follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce (
Reposted at